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Explosion At Astley Deep Pit (Dukinfield)

Volume 218: debated on Tuesday 21 April 1874

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Motion For A Return

MR. MACDONALD moved an Address for—

"Return of all the lives lost in the Astley Deep Pit, Dukinfield, with cause of the loss of life and date of the same; and, Copy of the opinion of the Inspector of the district, Mr. Wynne, on the management and state of ventilation of the Mine at the time of explosion on the 8th day of March 1870."

The hon. Member said, that in asking for this Return, he had no desire to appear to the House invidious by selecting this single colliery; but when such disasters as that which occurred last week were repeated again and again, he thought it was a fair subject for the fullest inquiry, in order to allay the

tremor in the public mind, and, if possible, to get at the true cause of the disaster. A short time ago that House, in conjunction with the other House, passed a Bill—the Mines (Coal). Regulation Bill—for the better inspection and regulation of mines, which gave to the mining population immense satisfaction and to the general community the impression that there would be perfect security to the men who worked underground in the pursuit of their occupation. But if there should be a repetition of such a disaster as that which occurred last week, by which 53 of our fellow men were almost in a moment flung into eternity, the public would lose confidence in a statute which he believed was well qualified, if fully carried out, to preserve the lives and the health of miners. He trusted that every facility would be afforded for obtaining full information as to the disasters in mines.

said, that no one was more anxious than himself that there should be a full and impartial inquiry into the cause of the accident referred to by the hon. Gentleman. It was an accident of no ordinary severity. He believed that no fewer than 48 lives had been lost by it. The Return for which the hon. Gentleman moved would be laid on the Table of the House as soon as it could be prepared. With regard to the opinion of the District Inspector, Mr. Wynne, if the hon. Member would look in the volume of Reports on Mines for 1871, he would find that an accident occurred in this mine in 1870 by which nine persons lost their lives. The Inspector made a Report, in which he said that nine persons had been killed; that the accident had been caused by bad management, or, rather, by no management at all; that for two years he had been warning the proprietor that some accident of the kind was inevitable if a competent manager were not appointed to that mine. The Inspector went on to say that he thought the manager a very good underground man, but not a man having the amount of specific knowledge that was requisite for managing a mine of that character, or one fit to meet any emergency which might arise. That opinion, of the Inspector was endorsed, not only by the Coroner, but by the jury. There was nothing more important than that the mining population should be assured that every possible precaution was taken to insure their safety, and that the Act passed some two years ago should be thoroughly carried out; while, on the other hand, he conceived there could be nothing more satisfactory to the proprietors of mines in general, or even of that particular mine, than that the case-should be thoroughly investigated, in order that, if it should be shown that there was no fault of their own part, their character might be cleared. In conclusion, he would take care that there should be a full, searching, and impartial inquiry made into the whole circumstances connected with this accident. The Returns for which the hon. Member had moved would be laid on the Table.

Motion agreed to.

Address for—

"Return of all the lives lost in the Astley Deep Pit, Dukinfield, with cause of the loss of life and date of the same; "
"And, Copy of the opinion of the Inspector of the district, Mr. Wynne, on the management and state of ventilation of the Mine at the time of explosion on the 8th day of Maxell 1870."—(Mr. Macdonald.)